I climbed 80 floors today, for a total of 1,600 stairs. The results haven’t been posted yet, and actually, I didn’t notice the time I started, or when I finished. If I had to guess, 30-40 minutes. The event took place in the stairwell of a well-known building that is part of the Chicago skyline. The Aon Center. The Lurie Children’s Hospital Step Up For Kids is a great fundraiser, and I’m proud I took part. But I think it may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done athletically…though that could have something to do with my lack of training and recent upper respiratory infection. I registered for the event with four or fives weeks to train. And then I got sick, and couldn’t breathe. Could barely move without coughing. So the stair master was definitely out.
Six months ago, being unprepared for a race would have killed me. I mean, I’ve been plagued by perfectionism most of my life. The fear of looking a complete fool and failing was always real in my mind…so much so that I often didn’t try things if I didn’t know I could succeed. Perfectionism isn’t about being perfect…it’s about the fear of what happens when you’re not.
I’ve been trying to get away from this kind of behavior for a long time. Simply because I’m tired of living in the same safe box. But that’s not to say the old demons aren’t there. When I woke up this morning, I could feel myself wanting to bail. I mean who would know, right?! I signed up by myself…no friends were counting on me being there. I already raised the money. And what donor is going to ask for it back?
These were the thoughts running through my head, as I got dressed for the race. The worst case scenarios ran through my head…like passing out, throwing up, or worse yet…getting lapped by children and seniors or not being able to finish and having to quit.
But no…those thoughts are part of the past, and now it’s time to move forward. It’s time to step up and try. No matter what happened to today, even if I had to stop at every floor to take a break, I was going to make it to the top.
And I did. And yes, both seniors and children alike zoomed past me as I clung to the railing, slowly taking one step at a time. I found that my muscles could withstand the pain and exertion, but my lungs were really hurting as the air changed with the elevation. And, I did almost throw up around floor 50, and thank God, held it together. Because that would have been embarrassing!
And now, it feels great. And if I had let myself give into the fear of failure, it’s one less experience I would have had. One less accomplishment. One less chance to see if I could play in the possibility, and test how far I can go.
I’ve been looking for a quote to share about risk and failure. There are plenty out there to choose from, but I’m going to go with this one from, a personal hero of mine, J.K. Rowling, “It’s impossible to live without failing at something. Unless, you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”
My plan this year is to compete in a 12 races, one per month, throughout the year. From running and stair climbing, to biking and swimming. 5ks, 10ks, 80 floors, half marathons, and more. I’m going to do it all.
Or at least I’m going to try.